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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
New Phase In Newtown Investigation; Connecticut Shooter Considered Military Career; The NRA's Powerful Influence In Washington; Blizzard Conditions Paralyze Holiday Travel
Aired December 20, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the latest on the investigation in Newtown. Plus, we have some new details tonight about Adam Lanza.
And inside the mind of a killer, tonight, we talk to a doctor who has studied the brains of murders for decades and has said he has found a very specific pattern.
And lawmakers voting tonight on a solution to avoid the fiscal cliff, but does this solution mean anything? Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, a new phase in the Newtown, Connecticut shooting investigation. Tonight, we are also learning some fresh details about Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman behind last week horrific elementary school shooting.
This is the small community tries to heal and makes sense of what has happened not even one week ago. There were six funerals today. Three of them were for first graders, Allison Wyatt, Benjamin Wheeler and Catherine Bubbard.
Family and friends said goodbye to substitute teacher Lauren Russeau, special education teacher Anne Marie Murphy and Principal Dawn Hochsprung, all have been hailed as heroes for trying to protect their students.
I remember hearing Lauren Russeau's boyfriend saying they had just celebrated their one-year anniversary and he thought that relationship was forever.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick is in Newtown tonight. Deborah, let me start by ask go you what is this new phase that the investigation is entering into?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, what it is, it is all about motive, motive, motive. Investigators are trying to figure out why he did what he did. And Adam Lanza took very great pains to get rid of virtually the brunt of the evidence, which was the computer, smashing it to bits, destroying the hard drive.
What we can tell you is that investigators were here at the home for the last couple of days. Today, they walked the grounds. They were outside, walking the perimeter. They went through the outside as carefully as they went through the inside going through everything they could possibly get their hands on.
Cell phone records, documents, files, any sort of video games that may have been inside the house, all of that they were trying to piece together. They pulled out about lunch time today.
We spoke to the lieutenant in charge of all this. He says that right now, for the time being, they are done for now. That means they've gone through this house with a fine tooth comb.
If there is reason to come back to the home, they'll do that. But right now they do feel that they've got as much evidence as they're probably going to get. If something comes up later on, something they didn't think about, they were return.
This house is still theirs. It is still a crime scene. It has not been released. But right now as far as an on-scene presence, they're gone. The crime lab pulling out just before lunch today -- Erin.
BURNETT: Deb, I know that the shooter's mother, Nancy Lanza, was also buried today. What can you tell us about that?
FEYERICK: You know, what's so interesting about it, she was the first victim. She had returned to this house. She had been away about three days. She came to this house. Investigators believe she was shot in the head early Friday morning, the first victim.
She was buried at an undisclosed location. We're told by the chief of police in Kingston, New Hampshire. That's where she grew up. That's where she was from. It was a very private service, a quiet service, family only. There weren't even friends.
Her son, Adam, the gunman, he was not buried with her. It is not clear whether in fact his body has yet been released or whether they are going to hold on to it in case they want to do further tests about what was going on. You talked about Asperger's.
The investigation into whether he had some underlying psychiatric disorder as well is something that they're testing. But you know, this was such a family in transition. Nancy Lanza knew her son was getting older. He was 20 years old.
She was trying to find out what he would do for the next stage of his life and there are new information that in fact she had even considered possibly putting him in the army, maybe cryptology because he was so intelligent.
She thought maybe that was a way to sort of harness his intelligence. She wasn't shirking her responsibilities. She just needed to figure out what to do with her son now that he was getting older -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Deb, thank you very much. And Deb referring to Adam Lanza and the fact that he may have been interested in joining the military, obviously this is of high interest to everyone who wants to understand what happened here and why.
Now, apparently, Adam Lanza first made his interests known in 2009 when he was 17 years old. That's just around the time he stopped taking classes at Western Connecticut State University.
Now, this is according to the "Connecticut Post," which first broke the story and has this latest development on Adam Lanza's interest in the military. Marian Gail Brown is the writer of that story.
Marian, thank you very much for taking the time. I know you spoke to one of Nancy Lanza's good friends. She told you Adam Lanza was interested in joining the military. What was about it the military that made him interested?
MARIAN GAIL BROWN, REPORTER, HEARST CONNECTICUT NEWSPAPERS: I think he had, what we're piecing together from Ellen and other sources is that he had a fascination for a long ways back with things military- related, military equipment.
He was a very, very bright young man. And when he first expressed that interest, which was around the time he was ending his course work at Western Connecticut State University, initially his mother was very supportive of the idea and that's what several sources have told me.
She was initially very supportive of it because it would have given him organization, structure, a career path even and he was a very, very bright person. But as time wore on and she thought about it more and what she knew about her son, she realized this might not be the best path for him.
BURNETT: Why did she change her mind? Did she tell your sources, Ellen or others why it was she suddenly thought this isn't good for him?
BROWN: Yes. For a long time, Adam, one of the things he had going on was sort of a phobia about being touched and having physical contact with other people. In his high school, when people would inadvertently, you know, make contact, it was a very uncomfortable feeling for him.
And you know, she explained, you know, they had a very close mother/son relationship and it was over time that she expressed her misgivings about him going into the military, the Marines or any other branch. Not because he wasn't smart enough or anything like that but because of those issues with physical contact and that was --
BURNETT: Did that cause a lot of tension in their relationship when she said that to him? Did he react with frustration or anger?
BROWN: What I'm gathering from some of the other sources I've spoken to, that it was more disappointment and uncertainty about what else he might do.
BURNETT: And what can you tell us about Nancy's relationship with Adam in the past year? I know you're talking about the interest went back before that when he was finishing classes at Western Connecticut. What about the past year? Was there tension? Were there any issues she talked about with friends?
BROWN: She was actually becoming more comfortable with going on vacations, going on short trips, leaving him home alone. He was essentially a homebody. And he was developing interests, other interests of his own, doing some computer repair work, even just going out grocery shopping on his own.
He -- unknown places, unknown environments had for a long time made him really uncomfortable. But they had reached a point where she was comfortable going away for a couple of days here, a couple of days there and that he was OK.
BURNETT: All right, Marian, thank you very much. Again from that reporting that Adam Lanza had been interested in joining the military, whether it be the Army or the Marines.
And also, very interesting there that he had done computer repair work, according to Marian's reporting. Obviously interesting that he had done such a seemingly thorough job in destroying his own hard drives before he committed the horrible act.
OUTFRONT next, the vice president has vowed to take action on guns. Talking about action and actually taking action are two different things. Will they be this time?
Plus a massive snowstorm is slamming the Midwest creating a massive travel problem right before the Christmas holiday.
And a vote later this hour on Capitol Hill to try to avoid the fiscal cliff at the 11th hour, does the plan though add up?
BURNETT: Our second story OUTFRONT, fighting gun violence. Vice President Joe Biden today met with his new gun control task force and here was the message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will act and we will act in a way that is designed, even if we can only save one life. We have to take action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: But how the administration will act is still in question. Meanwhile, NRA President Wayne Lapierre will publicly address the Newtown tragedy tomorrow. It is the first time the NRA has addressed it.
In fact, when you say why has it taken this long, I want to emphasize, this is a dramatic shift for the NRA overall. They have remained silent following other mass shootings. OUTFRONT tonight, James Carville, Democratic strategist and Reihan Salam, writer for "National Review." All right, good to see both of you. James, let me start with you here with the numbers.
The NRA spent $240 million in 2010, $17 million reportedly this election alone backing candidates that would support NRA positions. In 2009, the NRA pushed through laws relaxing the ability to carry guns on Amtrak.
I will admit I don't understand the need for that at all and new laws relaxing gun bans in national parks. So what can we expect the NRA to go along with?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, in Louisiana, they pushed a law to allow people to carry guns in churches. The bishop put the stop to that. Look, they're very powerful group. No question about it.
And they put a lot of stuff through and a lot of people not just the Congress, but state legislators are mortified for these guys and for good reason. They send out a lot of mail and people follow them.
I think the vice president was instrumental in passing the assault weapon ban before. He knows this. He is a good man to head up this task force, but he will be in for a heck of a fight them play pretty tough. It is not an easy thing to get done here.
BURNETT: Reihan, what should the NRA say? He is coming out and talking tomorrow. Is it safe to assume he will say look, we do support some kind of change, something should be banned or they will not go that far?
REIHAN SALAM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, my personal view is that the NRA would be very smart to talk about gun trafficking. We have a huge gun trafficking problem in this country that is tied to the fact that really about 1 percent of gun dealers who account for a very huge proportion.
Some say half of the guns that are used in violent crime in this country. And part of the problem is what is referred to as the private sales loophole. The thing is that we try to legislate around big tragedies like this and that leads us in the wrong direction.
The truth is in the assault weapons ban wouldn't have stopped something like this. Even a limit on magazine capacity wouldn't have stopped something like this. We have a huge problem with gun deaths in this country and there are a lot of smart step we could take like addressing that private sales loophole. That would make a real difference.
BURNETT: James, we all know, at least from what Lt. Vance, the Connecticut State Police chief has said is that, Adam Lanza had enough bullets to kill every single child in that school. Maybe that was his intent. It certainly seems that it was.
I'm curious about this whole task force. I mean, it is great to have a task force, right, but there are three things our John Avlon reported that the president could do now without a task force, right.
We haven't had an ATF director in six years, apparently only 0.1 of 1 percent of people who lie on their background checks of which there are 71,000 in just one year actually get prosecuted and of course, the ban on assault weapons. So why doesn't the president just do that now?
CARVILLE: Well, I think that the ban on the assault weapons, I think it legislatively expired in 2004. Passed in the 1994, but I don't know. Other things seem like good ideas to me. I think there are two problems in this country. There are too many high magazine assault weapons and too many crazy people.
And we ought to reduce both of them. We need fewer crazy people and fewer, you know, 30-clip, 30-round magazines in this country. And look, I own guns. I know a lot of my friends do. Some of this stuff is kind of absurd.
And I think it makes a very good point, the gun show loophole. Some little loophole slips through and more crazy people get these things. I'm for doing something about mental health and these high ammo magazines.
BURNETT: Both of them are two crucial parts of the problem and both involved in what happened last Friday. After the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, I'm curious what both of you think about this. Several bills were announced to limit high-capacity magazines, which James you were just saying. You know, limit magazine is a good idea. That legislation was not enacted. Who fights for that? Who needs that?
SALAM: Well, one of the fundamental issues, there are a lot of folks in this country, Democrats and Republicans, who believe very strongly that there is an individual right to bear arms. When you're at limits on magazines, the last time we had a limit on magazine capacity was about ten rounds.
The most popular firearm in the country, the Glock handgun has about 17 rounds in the chamber. And I think a lot of people are questioning whether or not limiting magazine capacity is appropriate when this handgun that is used by many people for self-defense and other legitimate purposes would be so heavily impacted by it.
I understand the desire to limit magazine capacity but I think it will be a tough thing. Wait a second. I use my firearm for legitimate purposes and I think it is perfectly appropriate to have 17 rounds in my chamber.
CARVILLE: Yes. I have no idea why he needs 17 rounds in your chamber. Have you got a handgun? I've got six. What are you going to do with 17? That's an argument they can make and not make. But the point is that this thing is going to be, they're in for a tough slog. What the vice president said, now the commission will come back in January and make some recommendations. There is no doubt, the only thing I would say, Erin, this one felt different. We've gone through these things in Colorado, the Gabby Giffords thing.
I don't know this one feels different to me. And I think the fact that the NRA has been silent for so long is a signal it feels different to them. I think this changed the ground underneath as you little bit. Whether or not it is sufficient to do something, I have no idea.
SALAM: There is just one thing I want to add. James earlier on said there are two pieces to this. Part of it is an underlying violence problem. You have a lot of mental illness, a lot of anger.
We are a more violent country than other countries where you have high rates of ownership. That's an unfortunate fact. The other thing I think we need to understand is that the technology for spreading violence is the real underlying issue.
Think about the way we think about terrorism. A super empowered dangerous individual is a lot more dangerous now than a super empowered individual was 60 years ago. And the technology for people to create their own guns is frighteningly close at hand.
So a lot of this is fighting the last battle. The truth is the capacity for deadly violence is very widespread in the form of firearms or some other weapons.
BURNETT: All right, we'll leave it there. A thought for our viewers, think about what happened in China last week right when this happened, 23 children were stabbed in a school and they lived. It was a knife and not a gun. It probably would have ended differently if it had been a gun like in Connecticut.
Ahead, a blizzard threatens to holiday travel plans for thousands. Plus the State Department in the hot seat on Capitol Hill. Officials making promises while facing some very tough questions over what they got so very wrong on the attack in Benghazi.
BURNETT: Our third story OUTFRONT, a major snowstorm paralyzing holiday travel. There has been near blizzard conditions already in Chicago, half a foot of snow forecast and the timing coming be worse.
Tomorrow is going to be the busiest travel day of the holiday season. That's the expectation. Meteorologist Karen Maginnis is OUTFRONT. Karen, what's the latest on the storm and is it going to move east?
KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is going to be moving east, Erin, and this powerful area of low pressure is now centered just over the lower Great Lakes. It is moving fairly quickly now toward the east. So by tomorrow, it will be centered across the north-eastern region with lots of wind being reported. But in Chicago, it has been 290 days since they have seen significant snowfall and now the snow has started to move in. When it is all said and done, it looks like Chicago, some of the suburbs could see about a half a foot of snowfall with some winds, gusting up to as high as 60 miles an hour.
I wanted to show you some pictures coming out of Beaver Dam in Wisconsin. To the northwest of Milwaukee, they reported 14.5 inches of snowfall and very treacherous driving conditions, winds gusting to 60 miles an hour.
Then we talk about Chicago. Right now, Chicago, light snow, fog, reduced visibility, very misty weather conditions being reported there, but also, the wind coming out of the west and northwest gusting up to around 40 miles an hour right now. In Green Bay, we were at images all week out of green bay where visibility was maybe 100 feet, but it was fairly low.
You can see them trying to clear off the roadways. And in Iowa, lots of I-Reports coming out of Iowa area, Des Moines, Ames, Iowa, they had a 30-car pileup there and reports out of Chicago, O'Hare and Midway saying hundreds of flights canceled already because the conditions there are just deteriorated so fiercely.
And Erin, not just there, across the southeast we saw damaging winds and a possible tornado in Mobile, Alabama.
BURNETT: Karen, thank you very much. Obviously, very bad timing for that for so many. Still OUTFRONT, breaking news, we'll take to you Capitol Hill. There are some late developments as Republican at this instant are trying to scramble to get enough votes to try to take that to the floor, a plan to avoid the fiscal cliff.
BURNETT: Welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.
We start with some other stories we're following tonight with our reporting from the front lines.
We begin with the State Department. Official testified today about the September 11th attack on the American consulate in Benghazi. Four Americans were killed that night, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns vowed to do more to ensure safety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BURNS, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We learned some very hard and painful lessons in Benghazi. We are already acting on them. We have to do better. We owe it to our colleagues who lost their lives in Benghazi. We owe it to the security professionals who acted with such heroism that awful night to try to protect them and we owe it to thousands of our colleagues serving America every day in diplomatic posts around the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Now, why did you see Nicholas Burns there? That's because Hillary Clinton was not there. She was notably absent. She was supposed to be the one testifying.
She wasn't there because she's recovering from an illness. She is expected to discuss the attack next month before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Well, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution to send an African-led force to help oust the rebels who have taken over the northern part of the country. The resolution authorizes the military force to use all necessary measures to help the Malian government retake the north. Meanwhile tonight, we are learning President Obama is stripping Mali of certain trade privileges. It's a very tough time to do it but he's doing it because there's been a decline in democracy.
Well, the economy, ours that is, grew faster than anybody thought in its final estimate. In its final estimate, the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew by 3.1 percent. That probably sounds big to you. I hope it does because it is relative to where we've been. It was 1.3 in the second quarter.
Economists said that that better-than-expected number came because of increased spending by consumers and by government.
And Peter Madoff, Bernard Madoff's brother, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in pulling off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. That was the maximum sentence he faced because he had a plea deal with federal prosecutors. He admitted to conspiracy, falsifying documents and lying to clients, as well as the IRS. His brother Bernie is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina prison.
It has been 504 days since the U.S. lost its top credit rating. I'm getting tired of this segment. I'd like this to change, but I'm certainly not very hopeful given what's happening in Washington. There's a lot of clown action going on down there.
There was some good news today, though, on housing. Consumers are doing their part. Sales of existing home hit a high, the best we've seen in three years in November.
And now our fourth story OUTFRONT, we have breaking news from Washington. A scramble for votes on the Hill. The House was expected to vote actually right now. We were expecting to have breaking news that vote was coming in.
It was going to be on Speaker John Boehner's plan to allow tax to go up on people who make over $1 million a year. But now, that vote is in danger because it appears Republicans are struggling to find the votes they need -- the votes that they actually thought they had in the can to pass the bill. Dana Bash is our senior congressional correspondent.
Dana, how did this unravel? How significant is this development that the speaker thought he had the votes and he doesn't seem to.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is very significant.
If you can see over my shoulder down there, that is House speaker's office. Just a few moments ago, the House majority leader and other members of the leadership race in the there after they did something which is always a bad sign when you are the majority of the House. They recessed the House, subject to the call of the chair. That is effectively a pause button while they figure out what to do.
Not just that. Moments ago they called a meeting in about 15 minutes of all House Republicans, as a last-ditch effort clearly for the speaker and other members of the leadership to convince their rank-and-file that they should vote for this.
Why is this a big deal? Because the speaker, first of all, and some of his deputies, have said publicly that they believe this is going to pass. But most importantly, the whole reason why the speaker wanted this vote was for Republicans to be able to show that they are not going to let taxes go up for the majority of Americans.
This as you said, this bill would leave tax cuts where they are for anyone making under $1 million. If they have to pull this or if this fails, that would be such a black eye, frankly, on the speaker. It would be very, very bad for him.
So that's why they're absolutely scrambling right now. All day, it was pretty clear -- and, Erin, I've got to tell you. I was out on the House floor watching the speaker's deputies walk around and look for votes. They've been doing it all day long, really trying to twist arms and I've been talking to people in the hallways here.
Members of the hour, Republicans, many of whom, some of whom who are in leadership positions saying they're not sure if they're going to vote for it yet.
BURNETT: And why is that? They think they should -- more like the president's plan where you would increase the taxes on people $400,000 or more? I mean, are they going into the president's camp? Are they mad because the speaker is willing to raise taxes at all?
BASH: It's the latter.
BURNETT: They're not going to -- I'm glad you asked me the question, because it's an important thing to point out. They are -- for the most part, they do not believe that any taxes should be raised, even for those who are millionaires and above. That's -- those are some reasons. Other people who I've talked to, other Republicans who are no's, say that they don't want to vote on this. They also want to vote on a bigger plan that deals with spending cuts and entitlements and so forth.
A bad sign just happened maybe in the past hour. One of the things that Republicans did to try to lure reluctant Republicans was they just voted on a package of spending cuts. That was a way to sort of mollify about voting for any tax increases. That barely passed. That barely passed. So, that was definitely a bad sign.
You know, we'll see what happens. But, you know, this also could be a sign for the president in the bigger negotiations, of just exactly where the Republican caucus is. If they're not going to go for it, tax increases for millionaires, you know, it's pretty clear that it's going to be hard to get anything in between where the president is, which is incomes of $400,000, and $1 million.
BURNETT: So, Dana, just a quick final question. I want to bring in our panel here. But what is the bottom line? Does this mean we're going off the cliff in your best estimate?
BASH: You know what? I wish I could answer that question. It's certainly -- we'll see what happens after this meeting. And we'll see if they decide that they're going to take the vote tonight or they're going to pull the vote. It still could mean that the speaker could go back and have conversations with the president and try to come up with a plan where they could get a majority of Democrats to vote.
One big issue, one reason why Republicans are having a big problem here is because no Democrats are voting with them. They have to get a majority of the votes from Republicans and again, many within their own caucus are very reluctant to vote for any tax increases and Democrats are standing back saying we're not going to help you because they think that this is just a show vote.
BURNETT: All right. Thanks very much, Dana. I appreciate it.
Now, let's bring in Doug Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Daniel Altman, adjunct associate professor of economics at New York University Stern School of Business and, John Avlon, columnist at "Newsweek" and "The Daily Beast."
OK, great to see all of you.
Doug Holtz-Eakin, you heard Dana say, look, this is a huge black eye for John Boehner. He comes in and he says tax increases for those over $1 million. I've made a deal with the president. Nothing below that. You should be excited about this deal.
And they're saying no way, buddy. That's not enough. We don't -- we don't want any taxes.
DOUG HOLTZ-EAKIN, FORMER CBO DIRECTOR: Well, the speaker has been guided by some very simple principles. Principle number one, he does be want to go over the tax cliff and he believes it would be deeply damaging to the U.S. economy. I think that's correct. It's a threat and it would mean a recession.
Number two, he said, let's keep taxes as low for as many Americans as we can. And he has put forth a bill that does that.
And the third thing he stuck to again and again with the president, give me something that I can pass. It's fine for you to posture and run around the country, but the things you're talking can't get through the House of Representatives. And I think he is showing that tonight.
BURNETT: John Avlon, what happens here though now? I mean, do we -- do we go off the cliff? I mean, if the problem is, Republicans don't want to vote for any tax increases at all. There's not going to be anything Democrats are going to vote for that Republicans are going to vote for. I mean, I'm just sort of stating the facts here, right?
JOHN AVLON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. But keep in mind, remember the whole debt ceiling debacle we had last time? Ultimately, we passed a deal that the far right of the Republican didn't support, the far left of the Democratic Party, but the majority of both parties did. They met in the middle. That's ultimately what's going to make us not go over this cliff.
But what's significant here, look, Boehner's plan B was always DOA. It was not going to get through the Senate. President Obama was going to veto it. The question right now, at this moment --
AVLON: -- is whether or not this congressional kabuki, which really is just kabuki theater, to pass this on the speaker's part is actually just that, a kabuki? Or whether it is a sign of a real crisis in the fiscal cliff negotiations on?
On Monday, the administration and the speaker were pretty close. Signs have been getting more and more skeptical every day since. So, this really does point to the fact that Boehner and Pelosi and Obama are going to have to meet in the middle or we will go over the cliff.
BURNETT: Daniel, where is the middle? If Boehner said my biggest compromise is going to be a million and the president said $400,000, I think, is going to be the best he's going to do, where is the middle?
DANIEL ALTMAN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: I don't think it's just the tax rates and the tax increases anymore for the rich folks. I think it's a lot more about entitlement reform, changes to the whole tax code, they want a corporate income tax reform, they want other changes in spending. They want to wrap this whole thing up together.
But the problem is markets wanted this solved yesterday. Consumers want it solved before their holiday spending. It's just creating more of the uncertainty that Boehner himself is the one who's always complaining about.
BURNETT: Yes. You know, Doug, let me ask you, though. What's -- go ahead.
HOLTZ-EAKIN: I think -- one thing that I think is good to recognize, there are two different problems. Problem number one is the fiscal cliff, and that says keep taxes down and avoid spending cuts. Problem two is the enormous debt we have, which says, OK, we've got to get some taxes and some spending cuts together. And they're trying to weave them together and as they do it, they both gain and lose pieces of the coalition. It's just too hard a problem to be done in a short amount of time.
So, I think in the end, John has got it right. There will be some kabuki. There would be a deal made at the last minute. It will be a small deal that avoids the greatest damage from the fiscal cliff.
HOLTZ-EAKIN: And we'll be back in the spring for the real tough negotiations that Daniel mentioned, which is entitlement reform and tax reform.
BURNETT: Here's what I'm worried about -- here's what I'm worried about. That the deal is going to be something like this. Taxes get extended for a bunch of people and not for some of the wealthy. Forget where the lines drawn.
BURNETT: And we promise to make some spending cuts down the road.
And the problem is those spending cuts aren't really going to happen. How is that deal good for anybody?
HOLTZ-EAKIN: That's not a good deal and that's history.
HOLTZ-EAKIN: History has been -- we don't get the spending cuts. That's why negotiations broke down. The president has not put on the table fundamental entitlement reforms, not just next at the edges, but the kinds of things that they can commit to, believe and would change the trajectory of the debt. That's the most important part of this debate.
If you look at any of the debt commissions, whether it is Bowles- Simpson or private sector, they're about 3:1 on spending cuts versus taxes. We're not close to that. So, we're not close to solving the real problem.
AVLON: Look, the real priority here, Erin, is two things. First of all, don't go over the fiscal cliff. It would be calamitous for the economy.
And, second, creating a foundation to really deal with major entitlement reform, debt and deficit down the road. Look, the president and the speaker have been working towards the $2 trillion plan. That might satisfy the markets, but it's a step in the right direction. The fact that the president has said he would deal with chained CPI for Social Security, that's not nothing. That's a significant concession that will anger the Democratic base.
Likewise, I think we all realize now the speaker is giving on rates. Maybe that lines at $500,000. We'll see what comes out.
Some deal is better than none. The course of the folks on the right and left who are saying no deal is better than a bad deal, those are the folks who are putting our country and our economy in peril right now.
BURNETT: Very fair point. Although I will say to our viewers, $2 trillion may sound like a lot, but it's a drop in the bucket. The IMF and big bond investors are saying, look, we need something around the order of $16 trillion.
If we can't do this little $600 billion, that is pathetic, as Erskine Bowles said, pathetic.
Next, examining the mind of a killer. Dr. James Fallon has spent decades. He's been studying brain scans and says he has found the pattern of people who commit horrific acts. We're going to look at those scans. We're going to be talking about what happened in Connecticut. That's OUTFRONT next.
Plus, new tensions between the United States and Russia.
BURNETT: We're back with tonight's "Outer Circle", where we reach out to sources around the world.
And we begin tonight in Russia where lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban Americans from adopting Russian children. That's a big deal because over a 12-year-period, more than 45,000 American adoptions have come from Russia. So, a ban would ignite already growing tensions between the two countries.
Matthew Chance is following the story and I asked him where Vladimir Putin stands on this politically charged issue.
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MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it would be a piece of aggressively anti-American legislation. If this bill is signed into law, it would essentially kill the homes of thousands of American couples trying to adopt a Russian child. Russian President Vladimir Putin has defended the proposed ban on U.S. adoptions, saying it's appropriate.
Russian officials he said are not permitted to sit in on U.S. cases involving the mistreatment of Russian children. There have, of course, been a number of deaths of kids adopted from Russia by U.S. families which has alarmed the Russian public.
But the threat of a ban is also being seen as a response to the U.S. Magnitsky Act, a recent law barring entry to Russians accused of human rights violations. All part of those growing tensions between Washington and Moscow -- Erin.
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BURNETT: Thanks very much to Matthew.
And now, let's check in with Anderson with a look at what's coming up on "A.C. 360".
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin.
Well, tomorrow, of course, is going to be a day of mourning officially in Connecticut, unofficially across the country. The one- week anniversary of the shootings, the families who loved lost ones a week obviously will never be the same, nor will Newtown, Connecticut. Today, there were six more funerals. We're honoring the lives of those lost and their memories ahead on the program. We'll tell you who was buried today.
You'll also hear from the family of Vicki Soto. I just talked to them -- her mom, her two sisters and her brother share the stories of how her heroism saved the lives of her young students that day.
Also, unthinkable. People capitalizing on the tragedy. There are some absolutely sickening scams going on right now. People are trying to raise donations in the victims' names. Fraudulent Web sites, emails asking for money. We'll speak with the Connecticut attorney general about what he can do to shut those sites down.
Also, also the first big blizzard of the year. Roads closed, tens of thousands without power across the Upper Midwest. A lot of airports shutting down. We'll tell you how the storm could disrupt travelers in the days ahead.
A lot more ahead at the top of hour, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Anderson. Looking forward to seeing you in just a few moments.
And now our fifth story OUTFRONT: the mind of a killer.
Adam Lanza left few clues for investigators as to why he went on a shooting spree, killing 27 people last Friday. Now, a geneticist has been joined to the investigation to try to determine if biology played a role. It's hard to imagine anything else, all of us sit here and try to think about how a human being, even an insane human being could kill innocent children.
And so, a big question is this: are certain people predestined to kill? Dr. Jim Fallon has been studying the brains of murderers for close to 20 years. And he joins me now.
And, Dr. Fallon, I appreciate you taking the time.
You have studied this exhaustively and you gave us some brain scans. I'm going to put them up for our viewers just so we can show people what they're talking about, because the differences are pretty stark.
And, everybody, as you see on the left, two normal brains. And then look at the brains on the right, the psychopathic pattern. That is dramatically different.
What are we looking at here, Dr. Fallon?
DR. JAMES FALLON, NEUROSCIENTIST, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IRVINE: Erin, we're looking at three different people. Two normal on the left, the PET scans, and the redder and yellow colors that means that these higher than normal, or higher than the psychopath really. And wherever you see the blues, the dark colors, that means it's lower than normal.
And what you see in the psychopath in these PET scans and other types of imaging scans, what you see is part of the frontal lobe turning off and also part of the temporal lobe shutting off, the amygdala also off. And these regulate behavior. They integrate emotion and ethics and morality. And these do not seem to be connective in working in a psychopath's brain.
BURNETT: So when you say lower than normal, you're talking about lower than normal ethics, morality, empathy. I mean, these are things you actually can see in a brain? Those sorts of amorphous concepts?
FALLON: What we're seeing in these scans are the relative amount of activity. This amount of glucose, in this case, the amount of activity.
And so, where you see a dark color, that part of the brain is not working at all and it should be compared to a normal brain. Well, those areas in the connections are correlated with certain functions of the brain. So we make that association. And we can't look in and see ethics but we know that people with this problem, with this turning off of these brain areas do not regulate their emotions, they do not really have a sense of morality.
BURNETT: Which is fascinating that you've identified where that comes from.
I want to, again, show those pictures. And I want to make a point to people because -- and tell me if I'm wrong. While it may be that many people who are killers end up showing that they have psychopathic pattern, many people who have psychopathic patterns, brains are not necessarily killers. I'm talking about you, right?
FALLON: That's correct. You can have these areas turned off because of certain combinations of genes. These are genes that have to do with usually with serotonin, dopamine, that really regulate behavior.
So some people that have the combination, who have inherited these, it turns off these brain areas and these people can be bon de vous (ph), you know, kind of party people, but they can be manipulative. But it doesn't make them criminals and it doesn't make them, you know, necessarily psychopath.
BURNETT: Right, because what I'm saying is, you know, while killers may have that brain, the actual brain that we're looking at on that screen is your brain. The psychopathic brain is you, right?
FALLON: Yes. As it turns out, this was quite a surprise recently because I had studied so many and it caught me by surprise that that pattern that I had looked at and seen in all of the killers and all of the psychopaths, I had the exact same pattern.
BURNETT: Which is incredible and does show that even though, again, people who kill may have that brain and people who have that brain may not kill. Do you expect that we're going to see that on Adam Lanza?
FALLON: Well, I don't know if we have access to the imaging. These are in a live person. So that possibility is gone. Probably what will happen is that the genes will be looked at and the combination of the genes. Not just one like warrior gene, but things having to do with empathy, things having to do with regulation of emotion.
If these are looked at, this could give a hint. But, again, be there are some people who have combinations that give very low empathy, they are very aggressive but they're not killers and they're not really psychopaths. They just have those traits.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Dr. Fallon, thank you very much. Pretty amazing thing to learn.
Next, the future of the literal place, Sandy Hook Elementary.
BURNETT: When the children of Sandy Hook Elementary return to school on January 2nd, they are going to be going to school in the Chalk Hill Elementary School. It's in nearby Monroe, Connecticut.
Today, Chalk Hill officials asked the media to stay away when classes resume to protect the children. That's the right thing to do. We're going to do it. We can't imagine how hard it will be for those children to return to school and we wondered whether they are going to want to return to their own school building in the future or not.
People I spoke to in Newtown felt that the school should be demolished and rebuilt. On Tuesday, we met Rod Deraney, a long-time Newtown resident whose 4-year-old is set to attend Sandy Hook Elementary next year. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So do you want him to go there?
ROD DERANEY, NEWTOWN RESIDENT: Without hesitation. They are going as long as the school is going to remain open. We want it to remain open. Some people may not. Everybody has their perspective -- maybe if it's bulldoze and rebuilt.
We just love Sandy Hook. It's a little nook of Newtown and we would love for the kids to stay in that school.
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BURNETT: They love the school but raising that question of whether it should be bulldozed and rebuilt, it's a question that a lot of people of Newtown are asking right now.
I also spoke to a local businessman, Kurt Popick. He's the owner of Pub25 in Newtown. He plans on holding a fund-raiser to build a new school.
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KURT POPICK, OWNER, PUB25: They can't go back in that building. So we've been in contact with the town in just trying to put it together when the time is right.
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BURNETT: It's clear that not everyone who experiences -- experienced this is going to feel the same way. After the shooting at Columbine High School in 1999, the library where the victims died was demolished. An atrium was built in its place. The high school, though, otherwise remain as was.
And the Virginia Tech incident, the deadliest school shooting in history, Norris Hall where most of the shootings occurred were renovated but it still stands.
What happens in Sandy Hook is something that the community will decide after a great deal of reflection and perhaps those who feel one way now ardently and passionately may feel different. There is no question that no matter what happens, there will be a memorial to the heroes of that day and to those innocent lives that were stolen.
But we want to hear from you since this is a national tragedy that has affected all of us. Go to our Web site, please, and let us know what you think about Sandy Hook Elementary.
"ANDERSON COOPER 360" starts right now.
COOPER: Erin, thanks very much.
Good evening, everyone. We have a very full night ahead of us, including a rare interview with the nation's biggest retailer -- and more to the point, mass marketer -- of guns: Wal-Mart.